Track Chair: Dr Spyros Bofylatos

Short Abstract:

Many of the contemporary crises we face are rooted in the unsustainable way that modern society is structured. The goal of this track is to collectively explore how might we create an alternative model of interacting with the natural and social spheres to foster the flourishing of an empathic, graceful, and ecological world by design.



Sustainability, in this phase of maturity, has become a wide-ranging issue touching upon more than environmental and economic issues and including also cultural, societal and personal dimensions. Dialogue is essential to advance this field as it can be seen as a contested issue with an array of different theoretical starting points and methodological frameworks. Approaches to design for sustainability can be viewed as a spectrum between eco-modernist and radical approaches. The first type of approaches aim to reduce unsustainability to zero whereas the latter aim to foster the emergence of sustainability in terms of a regenerative culture.

The transformation of the current linear model for production and consumption to a circular economy model and the adoption of the ‘Green New Deal’ provide a solid path of action aiming to minimize the impact of the economy on the natural sphere. At the same time, issues of participation, decolonization, and environmental stewardship have become central in the search for new ways of designing. This is necessary to support the shifts needed to alleviate environmental and societal pressures associated with modernity.

Sustainability is, perhaps, the largest and most challenging project humanity has undertaken. Given its emergent character, it is impossible to map an exact course, waters are uncharted and turbulent, tidal forces of dogma, bureaucracy, and self-interest sweep projects off course. Applying design competences, creativity and critique can enable the exploration of new directions in relation to the interconnected, wicked problems we are facing. As designers, we can explore an extremely varied range of approaches to engaging with these issues. The types of solutions are ranging from technical fixes to creating closed material loops to community-based design and nature-based solutions.

We invite participants to explore the following interrelated research questions:

  • How can design effectively help address the multiple crises we face in relation to the environment? How can its impact be assessed?
  • How can design research and practice envision new trajectories for fostering the emergence of sustainment and a regenerative culture?
  • How can design create frameworks where the long-term vision and the short-term action can meet in the middle?
  • What is the relation between notions of resilience, degrowth, decolonization, post-humanism and other emerging discourses with design research, practice, and pedagogy?